Sweat & sacrifice

Businesses create millions of good jobs means millions of men and women can live out their own dreams

I’m finding myself thinking about creativity more all the time. The key animating moment may have been a little more than a year ago when I was invited to be on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Music with Minnesotans,” a weekly program in which a designated resident gets to talk about the role of music in his or her life and also suggest several pieces for the approximately 30-minute slot, starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Suffice it to say the invitation was entirely unexpected, as I assume I’m one of the few guests in the history of the series who doesn’t read music and who has never played an instrument, although I was very much intent on doing so until getting kicked out of clarinet class when I was five or six.

For my playlist I picked Richard Rodgers’ “Carousel Waltz,” a portion of Handel’s “Messiah,” a portion of Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” and the Guarneri Quartet playing anything that host Steve Staruch picked. I had some kind of story for each selection, the last being that the Guarneri, which went on to be one of the great string quartets in the world, was in residence at Binghamton University when I was a student there in the late 1960s and they regularly held remarkable rehearsals in dormitory lounges in which they heard things I simply didn’t.

But the main point I wanted to make on the show was that I do a great deal of my writing while listening to classical music, as I figure if I’m taking in some of the most beautiful music ever composed, played by some of the greatest musicians in the world, then maybe I’ll be inspired to write — to create — a little better myself. Though I did add I usually have to stop writing when listening to
the Rachmaninoff piece, as it’s just too beautiful.

Also spurring me to ponder about creativity more concertedly than usual has been American Experiment’s 25th anniversary. Am I proud of what, along with legions of others, I’ve helped create? Absolutely. If that sounds boastful, my apologies, but just think of how pathetic it would sound if I said I wasn’t proud.

But even more than the creation and growth of this modest-sized nonprofit, I’ve been thinking about businesses, both great and small, and the creativity it has taken to bring them to life, and the sweat and sacrifice it has taken so they might one day flourish. Which is to say, create millions of good jobs so millions of men and women might support themselves and their families and live out their own dreams.

If this sounds like a Chamber of Commerce commercial, so be it. But one of the things the Center’s silver anniversary has me thinking about more all the time, is how it’s impossible to fathom an economic and political arrangement in which freedom to create is more likely than where markets are as free and unconstricting as prudently possible.

If this sounds like a commercial for a free market think tank, so be it again.